So one of your guys needs to get the proposal to the prospect by close of play Friday. And here you are on Thursday morning, seeing the document in all its glory for the first time.
If it’s a complex bid, maybe the first thing you should do is ask the customer for more time – say two more days? Because this is seriously bad timing and is going to eat into everyone’s weekend!
The second thing to do is to put yourself into the mind of the proposal’s audience. Given the lateness of the proposal, this may require a deep intake of breath and a zen-like moment of calm followed by a metaphorical turning of your brain outside-in.
Only then should you read the proposal.
Most sales people write their proposals as if the deliverables are important. Which of course they are if you’re trying to tell your internal teams what they’re on the hook for delivering.
But that’s not what the customer cares about.
The customer cares about outcomes, not deliverables. She doesn’t care if you’re putting 200 person-days of effort into delivering your frankly over-rated solution, or 2,000 days.
She doesn’t care about specific features or functional components of your products. Chances are that most of them aren’t unique anyway, so she’s going to read the same old same old from all the other shortlisted vendors. And then yawn…
Customers don’t pay for features or deliverables. They pay for outcomes and results. They measure these using return on capital employed and meeting their internal rate of returns. They identify projects with specific management goals that are likely to be linked to how their CEO gets paid his productivity bonus.
So if the first few pages of the proposal – the executive summary - isn’t focused on what the customer will pay for, then it’s done wrong.
And if the summary is bad, you can be assured that the detailed proposal is also poorly aligned with the customer’s pain and his buying journey.
So, let’s look again. Is this proposal going to be ready by Friday, showing outcomes and financial returns?
Or are you going to be letting your golfing buddies down?
For more on how EMEA Strategy can assist you with crafting great proposals, please contact us here.
Methodical ramblings after twenty-five years in Sales, Marketing and SalesOps.